As the 2020 election draws closer, many candidates discuss student loans and their solutions to the growing debt problem for Americans. However, most people experience the crippling effects of student debt right now.
Many couples consider student debt when they get married, so it makes sense they have to consider the same debt during a divorce. But how are student loans addressed during a separation?
Till “debt” do we part
Most forms of debt acquired before marriage are “separate property,” or property for specific individuals. It applies to student loans as well; in Arkansas, spouses retain their separate ownership and receive a portion of shared property.
If you accumulated student loans before walking down the aisle, those loans are separate property. But it’s more complicated if you received loans during the marriage. Typically, the courts will examine the loans and other factors, including your spouse’s role during your education, both spouses’ salaries, who co-signed your loan and if you received a degree.
Depending on your circumstances, the judge may rule that your student loans are entirely your responsibility. The court may also determine your spouse’s support of your loans during the marriage means they already paid their portion of the debt.
However, there is a possibility a spouse is also responsible for any debts accrued during marriage if it’s classified as marital property. In Arkansas, the courts try to split marital property equally, so there is a chance you pick up half of your spouse’s debt.
Unfortunately, each divorce brings a different situation to court, which means there is no set standard for the division of student loans. But most qualified representation knows the likely outcome and how to fight any responsibility to a spouse’s debt. Consult with a legal expert before discussing your loans.